Fine view on the mouth of the F. Maij (St. Johns River) just north of modern day Jacksonville, based upon original watercolor paintings by Jacques Le Moynes de Morgues, an official French artist, who accompanied two important French Expeditions to North America in the 1560s.
The images show the French explorations along the Florida-Georgia Coastline, which were first published in 1591, by Theodore de Bry. Taken from the publication of the reports of Jean Ribault (1562) and Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere (1564) expeditions, entitled Brevis narratio eorum quae in Florida Americœ provincia Gallis acciderunt . . .
On the first French voyage to the region which would be described as French Florida, the crew, led by Captain Jean Ribaut, landed at a promontory which later become Fort Augustine. Following the coast north from there, Ribault's expedition discovered a broad river, which they called May. After exploring the region, they proceeded further and sailed farther up the coast until they reached another river which Captain Ribaut deemed worthy of exploration. He called this river the Seine. After a brief investigation, the expedition continued a short distance north, before encountering another large river. This river was explored in two small boats.
Ribault named this river the Somme or Axona, which is about six miles from the Seine. The river marked on the engraving 'F. Axona, Iricana' is evidently the Somme, but has the suffix Iracana, after the Indians on this river. Today, it is known as St. Andrews Sound, Georgia, at the mouth of the Saltilla River and Jekyll Island. The fish-pens, shown in the river estuary, are 'reed enclosures made in the form of a labyrinth' by the Indians, and from which the fish found it almost impossible to escape.
Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.
As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood were threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.
In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focused on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.